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I have battled with perfectionism my whole life. Whether in the my personal or professional life, I would consistently be disappointed with what I was working on because it was never perfect. I would set the perfection bar so high that no matter what I did, it would never be good enough. At the height of this perfectionism, I saw it bleeding into my interactions with others.

Not only did it show up in the moment, it also manifested itself in the trajectory of my career. This perfectionism is what I’ve come to realize now as my creative roadblock – what some people call analysis paralysis (or being stuck in your head). I would always tell myself and others that the last piece of work you produce should be the best thing you produce and although I believed it at the time, that was an incredibly unhealthy way to look at things. It ultimately led to me halting a lot of the personal projects I had been working on, and led to my creative block and burn out that lasted two years. As tough as this period was, it forced me to look at the path I was on and analyze whether or not I was truly living the life I wanted.

PERFECTION IS POISON | Creative Thoughts 29 - YouTube

As many of you know, I work in the creative industry. For a lot of my career, I believed my worth came from the ideas I had and my ability to execute on them in innovative ways. I believed that when I was not able to execute on this, I was unable to do my job and stay competitive. I felt that if I didn’t keep ‘one upping’ myself that I would become irrelevant. What I didn’t realize was that this could have not been further from the truth. Not only did it create an unrealistic expectation for myself, but it also depleted my creative resources.

This period of stagnation was tough for me to deal with. I felt lost and unsure what my future held. I was unsure if film was even the career path I wanted to continue on. In this time, I also found the person I had lost when I first set out on my path as a filmmaker. This space that was created allowed me to just be. It made me realize that sometimes it is okay to just be. I know it seems hard but life isn’t just about accomplishing things. Sometimes it is just about being present in the current moment.

For the first while into my period of ‘being blocked’, I really struggled with my identity as I had, up until this point, defined myself by the work I produced. For two years I said ‘yes’ to the ‘I’ll be a better version of myself and a more perfect version of myself tomorrow’ voice. I procrastinated and I stopped myself many times because I didn’t want to be judged by others because what I was working on ‘wasn’t good enough’. My reasons for creating had been lost in the shuffle. As I started to crawl my way out of this place, I started to realize that there was much more to life than chasing this dream of perfection. I’ve come to terms with the idea that okay is okay. I started to create again for myself.

My biggest realization through all this is that what defines character is much deeper than your portfolio. Your integrity is the one thing people can’t take away from you. Your ability to build and maintain relationships is also much more important than being known as someone who ‘grinds’.

Stop Overthinking. Start Doing. - YouTube

When it comes to actionable steps you can take to reframe your relationship with perfection, I would first start with defining what perfection is in the first place.

What is it that you are reaching for that you hope to achieve?

What is it about this bar you set that is so attractive?

Is it a grass is greener thing?

Is it simply a matter of not being happy with your current place in time?

What would life look like if you were okay with okay?

Education and the learning process is half the fun. I know everyone wants the brightest and best RIGHT NOW without the journey but this journey is what makes things interesting. If we all had as glamorous of lives as is made out through social media, I’m not sure the world would be at the place it is today. Share the struggle of the journey and use these moments of imperfection to show that it is okay to be imperfect. Show what it means to truly live a fulfilled life. Show what it means to move into the present and be okay with what we are doing in any given moment.

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Have you ever started the year with the best of intentions but seem to fall short a few weeks in? Are their habits you’ve wanted to establish or break for a long time but never seem to be able to stick the landing? Did that happen for you this year? If so, you are not alone. According to a study by Phillippa Lalla, it takes between 18 and 254 days to establish a habit. If time is any indication, you can see how the unpredictability of length as well as the length itself cause many people to fall short.

I have tried and failed to establish many new habits, not knowing why I regularly failed. The biggest of all – the desire to quit drinking. When I think of my strategy for implementing new habits, it always starts with the best of intentions. I feel incredible for holding myself accountable for a set number of days but almost always, something in my life happens that gets me off track. I create excuses to let the new habits fall by the wayside for another time. What I have come to realize after spending time researching ways in which to become more deliberate with my attempts, is that the framework in which you establish is what determines whether or not you are successful.

Habits are much more easy to establish than break. As James Clear outlines in his book, Atomic Habits, humans are programmed to prioritize immediate rewards over delayed rewards (p193). When it comes to habits already formed, we know the reward from the given habit and seek that instant gratification. We seek out that immediate dopamine strike. For habits we want to break, we are less familiar with what life will be like when the habit is broken. As such, we are drawn to continue the habit because of the predictability of maintaining the habit, even if it does not align with our values.

When thinking of ways to successfully change or integrate new habits, momentum is the key. I’ve found that when you think in bite-sized chunk at each touch point, it is much easier to continue on your new path. Sticking to one habit change isn’t necessary here, rather focusing on small items of change across multiple target points is what sets the strong foundations of bigger change.

You will hear from many people that you should only change one habit at a time. Although I understand the rational here, my quest to quit drinking requires a bigger lifestyle overhaul. It requires:

  1. An understanding of the why.
  2. A change in many lifestyle choices.
  3. An understanding of how I define myself.
  4. A change in who I surround myself with.

As I set myself off on the quest to break the habit of drinking, I knew I needed to gain a better understanding of the why (the cue or the trigger). I drink to cope with anxiety. In moments of feeling overwhelmed, a drink quickly subsides these feelings. I drink after a hard day of work as a way to relax. I drink while I travel to help pass the time. I have a drink when out for dinner. I drink because it is available. I also usually don’t stop at one. Although I don’t drink to get drunk, I have a drink almost every day.

Luckily, I see a life without drinking and it doesn’t look scary to me. The first area of change is in how I define myself. Spending time understanding the traits that define me currently as well as the traits I want to be defined by is a great place to start when desiring to become a better person.

The second area is in who I surround myself with; my tribe. As I’m sure you’ve heard, ‘You are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with’ or ‘show me your friends and I’ll show you your future’. The intent of these sayings are to show that you are influenced by the people you surround yourself with and if you truly have a desire to change a habit or introduce a new one, you will need to look deep to see how the people you surround yourself with impact your potential of success.

Thirdly, in the quest to live a healthier lifestyle, I knew I also needed to change my environmental factors that made drinking easy. Establishing a barrier to entry by not having drinks in the house is one of the main steps for me to ensure success. In those fleeting moments where you want a drink, not having one in the house means you have a moment of pause to find something else. If you truly want a drink, you need to leave the house. By creating that barrier, it is much easier to say no.

Beyond introducing a barrier, making sure you don’t leave room for old habits to sneak in is important too. I found I would give myself permission when it is okay to drink, like when out of the house. This way of thinking simply invites the old habit to creep in. Alternatively, it makes more sense to consider, what will I replace the liquid with? What are options that can leverage the habitual nature of getting a drink and turning that act into some other act you can leverage? For me, I got an espresso machine as a way to help kick the old habit by introducing and learning a new skill set.

Lastly, in the quest to establish new habits or break old ones, I’ve realized awareness and a focused awareness is the key to success. When you make the good habit as easy and frictionless as possible and do so with intention, the new habit is much easier to implement. For me, habit tracking has been my way of keeping the quest for habit change to be top of mind. Changing this habit is a on-going battle and by having regular check ins allows you to see what is working and what is not working . This habit tracker acts as a daily check in where I can track my journey. By doing this, you can quickly gain momentum and be able to look back and see your progress. Sure, you may have days you slip but the key is to leverage the successes and learn your triggers and take action.

As a call to action, I would love to challenge you to pick one habit you have always wanted to break and work with me in my quest to quit drinking. If you are interested to join in on the journey, comment below or reach out on twitter and lets work together on our quest to modify our habits!

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As I sit here in the anticipation of writing this post, I feel a level of anxiety thinking of how this post will force me to reminisce on the past not so distant. I used to use accomplishing tasks as a way to measure my success and to be frank, I likely still hold onto this measure in some ways. My identity was completely intertwined with this work and it lead me to an inflection point.

Everyone claims they are busy. It is oftentimes, the pre-script answer when you ask someone how they are. I’ve often done this myself many times when not asking how the weather is. Having a child has showed me the importance of slowing down and being present in conversations and interactions I have. It also helped me realize how infrequently I had been able to achieve this state. It is clear that I have a wandering mind and although not uncommon, it was something I didn’t completely realize.

When it comes to the forces that have brought me to this point, I think they are heavily influenced in the way in which I have crafted my lifestyle. For as long as I can remember, I have watched movies while I work. It started in university leading to a solid 65-70% average for an art program where I could have easily hit the high 80’s. Whether writing, editing or coordinating projects, all have been married to the background noise of storylines I forget a few seconds after ingesting. It’s an unhealthy habit that has had bigger consequences than I could have ever expected.

Silence scares me unless I’m in nature.

How does a person go this far in their life knowing the habits they have created are incredibly unhealthy? I think that is a reality of habits. Unless you have a true desire to make a change, transformations are impossible.

I’ve started to consider ways in which to leverage the need to create in a healthy way. Having a desire to accomplish isn’t a bad thing if you are able to use it to help versus hinder and I think that’s what got in my way. Taking back the power of accomplishment simply means taking smaller bite sized chunks as my means of measure. Break down the walls of needing to be perfect, feeling imposter syndrome around every corner and just be.

Consistency is a much more honourable trait than perfection.

As I try to establish healthy routines, I realize that one change at a time won’t work. Change requires a consistent effort of wading through the moments of weakness. Change takes time and having strategies to deal with your old realities are imperative.

I’ve felt lost for two years and I’ve come to realize that feeling lost is a symptom of slowing down and realizing I’ve lived a life looking for those dopamine hits rather than a sustainable life built on a strong value system and set of beliefs – let’s say my guiding light.

Holding onto old ways of thinking impacted the way I lived my life on a tactile level. I don’t like to get rid of things that I see could offer value in the future. In reality, the hoarding of these things acted as a way to connect me to my old life, serving no purpose in the present. This looked like cabinets full of camera equipment, home improvement leftovers and camping accessories, organized much like my brain.

As I start on my quest of a slower lifestyle, this comes with some serious lifestyle design work. From decluttering to systemizing the way in which I approach each aspect, I am moving towards a slower lifestyle in hopes of calming the mind and reconnecting with the desire to share stories.

What I have come to realize is that failure is part of the road to success and in this quest to simplify, I know failure will rear its ugly head. No matter how many times you fail when trying to rework the way you live your life, the key is to keep trying. As Seth Godin put it, ‘Anyone can go slow. It takes a special kind of commitment to do it steadily, drip after drip, until you get to where you’re going’. This is my approach and in moments where I feel enough is enough, those are the moments to leverage and build momentum off of.

Hurrying up to slow down means that I’ve started to unload what I don’t use on a regular basis. I’ve started to move towards a minimalist lifestyle. I’ve focused on being present in as many moments as possible, from eating, to driving, to every single task I undertake. I have started to own the day early by loading up the front end of my days. I’ve mastered the act of saying ‘no’. No matter how busy I am, my focus is on building relationships and fostering the ones that I’ve already formed. I’ve integrated unproductive time into my schedule. I’ve started to wrap tasks around habits to try introduce consistency across all areas of my life. If found hobbies outside of my profession and I’ve started to focus more on self care. Through all of this change though, I’ve realized that slow and steady is much better than running towards the finish line.

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to have kids. It was something that I had been looking forward to when the time was right. The best … and hardest thing that has ever happened to me happened in July 2018. That was the day my daughter was born. Cheesy and predictable I know, .. but stay with me here.

Outside of dealing with the loss of something or someone, having a child is without question, one of the hardest things you will experience in a lifetime. You think to yourself, yeah, this will be hard but I can do it (with enthusiasm of course)! You think, many people have kids and they all seem to do alright, how hard can it be? People in worse circumstances have been having kids forever and they seem to be just fine. What doesn’t seem to get through your head when you are on the other side of the fence is how hard it actually is. You can hardly put into words the change that literally happens overnight.

There is no workup.

There is no slow transition.

It is an instant, life altering event that is with you for the rest of your life.

Leading up to the birth of our daughter, my wife and I read every book we could get our hands on to prepare us for what was ahead of us. We felt like superstars that could take on the world – no matter what was thrown our way. Like many things in life, things aren’t that simple. Looking back, there are a few things I wish I would have come across to help prepare me for the things that we experienced. We read high level on the subjects but not in a way that I connected with. The topics I wish I would have narrowed in on included The Lead Up, The Bond, Points of Struggle and The Perspective Shift.

The Lead Up: Preparing for the Birth

Foreword: I know a bit off topic but I wanted to include this section to set the stage for my experiences leading up to the birth. I think by setting context, it may be easier to understand where I am coming from through my perspectives on the subject that follows.

There is only so much preparation you can do before it becomes information overload. My wife and I read as many books as we could get our hands on and attended virtually all the classes you could take leading up to the birth. We both found that some of the content was better than others. For expecting fathers, The Birth Partner, The Expectant Father and Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child were my top picks. For expecting mothers, Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, Happiest Baby on the Block, Spinning Babies (videos), Expecting Better, and The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding were my wife’s top resource picks.

Beyond the books, we took many courses / tours as well. None were must-attends, though our birthing class and hospital tours were great to give us insights into our rights as well as questions to ask when developing our birth preferences. Regarding the hospital tours, those are great to ensure the hospital and their practices are the right fit for you. For the curious few, the other classes we took include: Breastfeeding, Newborn Care, Birthing Class and Child CPR.

Aside from the books and courses / tours we took, other things you can do to prep include:

  1. Nursery prep. Get only the basics – a crib, some 0-3 month clothes, some swaddles, Formula for backup, diapers, wipes & changing table. We went all out and didn’t use half the stuff we got. You will learn as you go what you need based on the way you raise your child. Don’t stress if you need to do a few late night trips to the closest baby store.
  2. Develop meal plan / Fill freezer with easy meals. We used our Instapot to create a bunch of frozen meals (chili, chicken noodle soup etc). When you are tired, the last thing you want to do is cook so plan in advance if you can.
  3. Deep clean your house. After you have your child, cleaning the house will be much harder. Having a deep clean done before you have your child ensures you are set for a bit once the little one arrives.
  4. Develop a birth preferences. Probably the most important of the lot. Create a list of preferences of how you want your birth to go depending on the methods of intervention are used if used.
  5. Pack the ‘go bag’. Packing the essentials for your hospital visit will make sure you are prepared when the labour begins. If you are planning a home birth, it is still important to have a bag ready to go in case complications arise.
  6. Go on a babymoon. When I first heard about it, I thought it was wild but looking back, I am glad we did it. Babymoon’s are a last holiday as a couple without the baby by your side. It brings you closer as a couple before your life changes forever.
  7. Find a Doula. Similar to a babymoon, having a Doula was another thing I was curious about. Doula’s acts as an advocate for you while in the hospital so you can focus on the experience, rather than communications with the doctors. Although somewhat limited to region, DONA International has a list of Doula’s you could consider.
  8. Find a Pediatrician. In many places, you need to have a Pediatrician appointment booked before you leave the hospital with your baby. Spending time before the baby comes allows you to do meet and greets with potential Pediatricians to make sure whether they are a good fit.
  9. Find daycare. Finding a daycare early will make sure the transition back to work is smooth. Looking for a daycare can be overwhelming when looking late so starting early with ease the pressure.
  10. Create a Will. in the event something bad happens, having a Will helps lay out a plan for what would happen with your child. Having this in place is your security blanket to ensure that he or she has the best chance for success. If you don’t have a lawyer but live in the US, Legalzoom offers a planning guide to simplify the process.

Sounds like a lot, right? It is but I promise you these things are much easier to do BEFORE the baby comes. If you happen to have any questions about the things listed above, please reach out to me and I would be happy to provide more information on each.

Beyond the elements listed above, it’s also important to think about how you will manage your work leading up to the birth as well as the days following the birth. For myself, I own my own business as well as freelance with other companies if the right opportunity comes along. It was reasonably easy to set time aside following the birth. My plan was to take about a month off and then jump into the odd job out of the house with the majority of my work I take being projects I can do from home.

The Birth: Establishing a Bond

The birth will never go the way you expect it to. Surprises will always come up. However, if you know your rights and the questions you need to ask, you will set yourself up for the best possible outcome.

For us, we originally were planning a home birth but we risked out because of missed blood-work from our midwives. Although disappointing, we had checked out a few hospitals and found one that was a good fit for us. Three hours after having the water broke, we had our little girl. The experience was much different than we envisioned but a positive experience all around.

Emerson Serena Kanak - Baby Announcement - Vimeo

For any parent, establishing that bond is something that we push for. Some say its instant. For me, as natural as everything felt, it still felt somewhat like a dream. Many people say that it was incredible right from the start but for me, it wasn’t quite like that. Sure, it is pretty incredible that you made this little thing but until she starts to show some form of interaction, it all feels utterly bizarre and as it is someone else’s baby. Luckily … that does change.

Bonding is an intense attachment that develops between parents and their children. It is what drives parents to do whatever it takes to protect their child. Interestingly enough, the way in which you respond to your child‘s signals has an impact on their social and cognitive development.

For us, I manage the nights with Emma and because of factors out of our control, my wife exclusively pumps (which means I can also bottle feed our little one). That means I have had the opportunity to bond more than most dads, which is great – but even though I’ve had this extra time, the bond has only started to grow. We are at six months with our little one and I’m starting to feel more of a bond as every day passes. I’m realizing it is the small things that make it worth it and that the more time you spend, with your undivided attention, the more feedback you will get.

Points of Struggle

My biggest point of struggle was with my career. I defined myself by the work I did and when I lost that, I lost a part of my identity.

I experienced…

…A feeling of being lost and not knowing what to drive towards.

…A feeling like I had my feet knocked out underneath me.

…A feeling that all the efforts I put in was for nothing.

…A feeling like I may have sabotaged relationships in the quest to build a career.

…A feeling like many friendships may have been broken in the process.

Ultimately, whether or not any of that was true was beyond the point. What I was dealing with was the fear of the future and what it had in store for me. Living in the future (or the past) is very debilitating. I knew that to attempt to gain some of the traction I felt I lost, establishing new routines was critical.

The main personal and professional routines I saw impacted that I needed to re-establish was business development, time management, sleeping and eating. Although there were other areas impacted, these were the main ones I wanted to focus on in an attempt to set a strong foundation for success.

  1. Business Development: The fact of any business or freelance career is that you need to continually pursue new leads if you have a desire to have a sustainable business. It sets the foundation for your business and sets the trajectory for the work ahead. However, establishing new leads when your new reality is unpredictable is challenging. For me, I was unsure how much I would need to be present in the house. As such, my desire to pursue new leads came to a halt almost completely. I was forced to re-evaluate the work I was producing and how my time was being spent. I learned that I needed to pursue leads that allowed me to work from home.
  2. Time Management & Work Blocks: I used to think I was pretty efficient with my time. I had project management platforms I worked with (Monday.com). I kept a pretty tight schedule. I thought I had a rock solid system that worked for me. I also thought I was pretty good at multitasking when needed (knowing multitasking on a regular basis is actually less productive). However, having a child truly showed me that I had a lot of work to do regarding time management. Now, multitasking when working in the home was unavoidable (for now). When I am able to get a small work block of time between diaper changes and naps, I get right to the task at hand and execute as efficiently as possible, knowing that the work block could be over at any moment. I also found that without keeping an active log on all things that needed to get completed that the items of less importance slip through the cracks much easier than before. I transitioned from an online only management system to a system that included the Bullet Journal. The reality of having a child is that you cannot always have a laptop by your side and easily track things. What you can have though is a notebook at all times. As such, I worked to develop a system to ensure these small things didn’t slip through the cracks by leveraging a paper catch up system. I found that the combination of the Bullet Journal and Airtable were the perfect catch all system. I’ve included a few screen grabs of my system. If anyone is interested in a walk through of how I leverage each, reach out and I am happy to share.
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For this project, I was hired to direct and edit a piece for WikiMedia. Due to the nature in which WikiMedia is founded, virtually all footage included is creative commons content.

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For this project, I was hired to produce a video capturing the recording process for Fretless’ new Album, ‘Live From the Art Farm’. As part of the project, they wanted to have not only a mini doc but also a live recording of the entire show. I captured the show using two motorized cameras and operated a third for the close up inserts.

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Vulnerability. Shame. Courage.  In this episode, Matthew Price talks with Matthew Adams about vulnerability and the importance as it relates human connection and relationship building. We talk about challenges in Matthew’s life and what positive takeaways he’s gained when stepping out into the unknown.

About Matthew Adams

A lifelong student, Matthew is constantly hungry to learn and to grow his skills and expertise. He is a Certified Primal Health Coach and holds both NASM’s Certified Personal Trainer and Performance Enhancement Specialist Certifications. He continues his quest for knowledge on a daily basis through research on cutting-edge concepts in movement and nutrition science, along with other related topics.

Episode Links

I’ve included a few more things if you would like to dig a little bit deeper.

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Shyness. Fulfilment. Retirement. In this episode, Preston Kanak and Diane Kanak discuss how shyness impacted the trajectory of her career and how she was able to overcome the shyness and not let it hold her back. They talk about how she has been able to work for the same company for over 37 years and discuss the next chapter of her life as she nears retirement.

About Diane Kanak

Diane Kanak has worked with the City of Saskatoon for 37 years and currently acts as the Deputy City Clerk as manager of the Records Information Legislative Services area.

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Friendships. Social Media. Relationships. Connecting. In this episode, Matthew Price talks with David Schonberg about the importance of social structures as it relates to personal and professional development. We talk about his early examples of this and how it became an important aspect to thrive and flourish.

About David

David Schonberg is a dad living in the coastal town of Montara with his wife, Laura and two daughters.  He works passionately to deploy renewable energy systems in an effort to improve our lives and reduce the impacts of climate change and negative externalities of fossil fuel energy generation.  In his free time he loves to run, surf and spend time with his wife, Laura.

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